iLane® is a hands-free, in-vehicle, voice-activated, secure system for email and phone access, meant to allow drivers to keep their eyes on the lane. Designed as a safety device, the iLane® allows users to do the things they do anyway — text, talk on the phone and email while in control of a motor vehicle — but do it more safely. It is made by Intelligent Mechatronic Systems® (IMS), which also makes Prompt® to enable drivers to have a hands-free way to contact a dispatch center, and DriveSync®, a platform for fleet monitoring and vehicle tracking.
The IMS home office is in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Canada was the first country in which it was released in 2008 with software compatible with the BlackBerry® 8000+ series smartphones of Waterloo neighbor, Research in Motion® (RIM). The market has been expanded to the United States, with Australia next in line. Plans for other languages and phones are in progress.
iLane® is a Bluetooth® receiver and voice-recognition device that requires a Bluetooth® headset or stereo receiver for operation and plugs into a car’s cigarette lighter with a 12V adapter. It allows a user to interact with his or her smartphone’s downloaded email messages, as well as place calls and compose emails. More specifically, it reads email messages and incoming email, SMS, and PIN messages — the latter refers to Blackberry® device-to-device messages. Then it allows the user to delete, forward, or mark them as unread, reply with either a pre-set template, a Voice Note®, or an mp3, or alternatively, to place a call to the sender if the phone number is in the address book. In addition, browsing of email can be restricted to unread messages.
iLane® can also place phone calls to contacts identified by name or number. Additionally, it can check the user’s calendar and, making use of material supplied by the Associated Press (AP), weather forecasts for a designated city and news headlines in the categories business, general, sports, technology, and entertainment, along with some special features on certain days of the week.
Some experts have attributed a portion of iLane’s popularity in the United States to the coincidence of its release with a growing number of distracted driving bans taking effect in 2009 and 2010. With laws specifying the prohibition of handheld cell phones and text messaging, the use of the iLane® can in some cases make phone and text messages legal. By May 2010, very few states had no law at all dealing with distracted driving.